Chihuahuas are one of the most beloved dog breeds around. These pint-sized pooches are known for their energetic attitudes and constant willingness to play. They fair well in family situations and love to hop onto their owner's laps to show affection.
With their small stature, Chihuahuas don't need a ton of room to roam. As a result, they're a popular choice for owners that have size limitations.
As a full-grown adult, Chihuahuas weigh under 10 pounds. With this small frame comes some unique dietary needs.
Providing your pup with a balanced diet from day one is essential. Chihuahuas have a very fast metabolism and will burn through their calories in no time.
To ensure that your canine companion stays physically and mentally fit throughout their life, you're going to want to find a high-quality dog food that gives them all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need.
Here's a quick overview of the recommended formula's.
How Much Food Does a Chihuahua Need Every Day?
Most new Chihuahua owners are surprised by just how much food their tiny dog can consume. They need a lot of fuel throughout the day to stay active and healthy.
When compared to a larger dog, Chihuahuas burn calories about three times faster. As a result, they'll need more food than you think. The exact amount will depend entirely on your dog's age and activity level.
Feeding a Chihuahua the right amount of food can be tough, especially in the earlier years. You want to feed them enough food to stay energized without feeding them so much that they become obese.
The key is to pay attention to your dog's lifestyle.
A dog that spends all day running around the backyard will need more food than one that spends their time lounging on the couch. You'll need to monitor their behavior throughout their life and adjust accordingly. This especially true when your dog enters their senior years.
When you're planning out your pup's meals, take a look at the calorie count per cup of the kibble. Some foods are more nutritionally dense than others, therefore, you need to look at their daily intake in calories rather than volume.
Typically, healthy adult Chihuahuas will need upwards of 250 calories. If you have a dog that's more on the active side, this number may jump up to 325 calories every day.
As they get older, you'll notice a drop in energy levels and exercise. If that's the case, it's important that you decrease the size of their meals. Senior dogs only require about 170 calories every day.
5 of the Best Dry Dog Foods for Chihuahuas
1. Wellness Core® Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food (small breed)
Specifically, designed for small breeds, this kibble from Wellness Core is a great option for Chihuahuas. It's completely free of grains, corn, wheat, soy, and unhealthy byproducts.
Instead, you'll find essential ingredients that will support your dog's overall health. Deboned turkey, turkey meal, and chicken meal are used as the main protein source. In total, this recipe contains an impressive 36% protein.
Complex carbs like potatoes and peas are also thrown into the mix. Fatty acids from the flaxseed oil will keep your pup's skin healthy while the high levels of fiber will keep him or her regular.
2. EUKANUBA Breed Specific Chihuahua Adult Dry Dog Food
From Eukanuba is this kibble that's made for Chihuahuas. It uses chicken as the main protein source and includes a bevy of beneficial extras.
One unique aspect of this food is that it can help avoid dental issues like periodontal disease. The 3D DentalDefense system is designed to reduce plaque over the course of a month. Beet pulp is also included. It acts as a prebiotic to aid with nutrient absorption in the body.
A healthy dose of antioxidants rounds off this formula to keep your dog's immune system strong. 3. Organix Small Breed Recipe Dry Dog Food
3. Organix Small Breed Recipe Dry Dog Food
With a recipe that consists of 32% protein, this dry dog food from Organix is sure to keep your dog healthy.
Organic free-range chicken is used as the first ingredient. It's followed by a collection of organic vegetables. These include peas, potatoes, alfalfa, and much more.
What you won't find is corn, wheat, soy, or chemical additives. The kibble has plenty of fiber to aid with digestive health. There's also some chondroitin and glucosamine added into the mix to support your dog's joints as they age.
4. Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food
This dog food from Nature's Variety is freeze-dried. This unique process helps to preserve the nutrients and minerals in each ingredient. Overall, the recipe is grain-free.
Protein makes up 34% of the formula. These high levels come from chicken meal, salmon meal, and fish meal. You'll also find natural fruits and vegetables. It has apples, carrots, peas, pumpkin seeds, and much more.
This collection creates a diverse nutrient profile. The food has probiotics, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants for better overall health.
5. Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Small Bites Dog Food
This Nutro dog food is made entirely out of non-GMO ingredients. Ingredients are sourced from reputable farmers and suppliers to ensure that the kibble is healthy for your pooch.
Chicken is used as the main protein source. In total, the protein makes up approximately 22% of the recipe. There's also plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. These include apples, blueberries, and much more.
The kibble itself is designed for small dogs. It's easy to chew and safe for your Chihuahua's delicate jaw.
Free-Feeding vs. Scheduled Meals
Knowing how to feed your Chihuahua is important. These small dogs have unique needs that must be addressed. It's recommended that dogs be put on a strict meal schedule when they're adults. This will help avoid overeating and bloat issues. Separating meals also help to keep their energy levels up throughout the day.
With that being said, puppies need as much food as they can get. As mentioned earlier, Chihuahuas have very high metabolisms. As they develop into adults, getting as many calories as possible is crucial.
Puppies that weigh 2 pounds or less should have access to a constant supply of kibble. For most healthy pups, this is up until the 3-month mark. At that point, you need to transition to scheduled meals.
The transition process can be tough for you and your dog. Puppies that are used to free-feeding will expect food to be in their bowl at all times. It's important that you don't give into temptation or sad puppy dog eyes and feed them everytime they ask for it.
It's good to provide your Chihuahua with one meal in the morning and one at night. Doing so will avoid potential health issues and prevent behavioral problems from forming.
Things to Look For
When you're shopping for the perfect dog food, you'll have a wide variety of options at your disposal. It's important that you take a look at the ingredients list to ensure that the recipe contains high-quality elements that will benefit your dog.
In most cases, cheaper foods have mystery ingredients that can do more harm than good in the long run. To help you on your search, here are a few essentials you should look out for.
All dogs need protein to survive. It should be the foundation of their diet. Protein contains amino acids that will keep your pup's muscles healthy. At the very least, you should go for foods that are made up of 18% protein. However, more protein is always best. It's recommended that your dog's diet consists of around 25% protein.
Before you buy a package of food, take a look at the ingredients list and see where the protein comes from. The source should be listed first. This indicates that its the most prevalent ingredient. Wholesome sources that are easy to identify are best. These can include everything from fish, bison, chicken, lamb, and much more.
Lean animal meats are always best. Other options may include meat meals. These are adequate as well as long as the animal that the meal comes from is easy to identify. You should avoid mystery byproducts that don't indicate what type of animal it's from.
Chihuahuas are prone to hypoglycemia. This occurs when your dog's blood sugar drops to dangerously low levels.
A good way to combat this is to invest in foods that contain complex carbohydrates. These include ingredients like sweet potatoes, barley, peas, oats, and much more.
These foods have a high glycemic index. This means that they break down slowly in the body. They take more time to absorb, allowing your pooch to avoid that unwanted energy crash and maintain adequate blood sugar levels.
Cheaper carbohydrate sources act more like fillers and don't do much for your dog's overall health. They're often included to add more calories without increasing production costs.
Ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy should be avoided at all costs. Not only are they empty calories, but they don't agree with a dog's digestive system. Consumption could lead to gastrointestinal upsets.
Fat is an essential macronutrient for dogs. It acts as a boost of energy and adds loads of flavor to the kibble. While bigger dogs will do fine with moderate levels of fat, a Chihuahua's diet should only consist of about 5%. They already have high energy levels and too much fat can lead to unwanted weight gain.
When it comes to the source of fat, look for natural ingredients that come from the meat source. Natural animal fat is a great option. One of the best is salmon or flaxseed oil. In addition to the great properties of fat, these sources contain omega fatty acids.
They'll work to keep your dog's skin and coat healthy. Additionally, they can fight off free radicals to keep your dog's immune system in check.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals. A wide range of ingredients will give your dog all the essentials they need to stay healthy. Certain types of vegetation also provide unique benefits.
For example, leafy greens like spinach add fiber for better digestion. Carrots offer a boost of beta-carotene for enhanced ocular health. Blueberries, kale, and raspberries are also antioxidants and can improve heart health.
Appropriate Kibble Size
In addition to looking at what's inside the food, you should pay attention to the shape of individual kibble pieces. Chihuahuas have small jaws, so they'll need kibble that they can eat safely and comfortably. I
t's always recommended that you give your dog dry food instead of wet food. Dry kibble is designed to scrub the teeth as they chew, helping your dog avoid potentially dangerous dental issues.
Chihuahuas are known to be finicky eaters. It's not uncommon for dogs to avoid eating their standard kibble if they don't like the taste or smell. Some may even get bored with their food over time.
The best way to ensure that your dog continues to eat every day is to give them something that they enjoy. If you adopted your dog from a breeder or shelter, see what type of food they provided them and look for another option with similar ingredients.
You may also want to switch up formulas every once in a while. Many manufacturers provide different flavors to please pickier palates.
Common Health Concerns
These dogs can experience a host of health problems throughout their life. The food that you provide them can have a huge effect on what types of health issues they experience.
Here are some common concerns and how to avoid them.
Chihuahuas can gain weight pretty fast if they're over-fed. Once they gain weight, helping them lose it can be a difficult task. In most cases, their body has already experienced some damage before you even start the weight-loss regime.
You can avoid weight gain altogether by sticking to an appropriate feeding schedule. Keep an eye on their eating habits and modify their daily caloric intake as needed.
Diabetes is often associated with obesity. However, it can occur in skinny dogs as well. You can prevent diabetes by sticking with foods that have complex carbohydrates. High-glycemic ingredients will ensure that their blood sugar stays at healthy levels. Regular exercise is also essential for avoiding the condition.